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Feather River Singers: News




Tribal Members Invite Community To Honor Indigenous History, Culture
October 5 - October 8, 2007

For more information, contact: Michael Ben Ortiz, 530-277-3423 or
Joan Buffington, 530-913-6446,

Nevada City, CA. An ancient Maidu riverside ceremony called "Calling Back the Salmon" is one of the highlights of the upcoming Indigenous Peoples Days, set in and around Nevada City, California on Friday, October 5th through Monday, October 8th, 2007.

Hosting the event, two local tribes, the Tsi-Akim Maidu Tribe and the Colfax-Todds Valley -Colfax Consolidated Tribe, invite the public to learn about their history, come together to heal the wounds of the past, and celebrate their culture.

Joining the celebration will be several native elders and a variety of tribal musicians and educators, including NAMI award winning Yolanda Martinez, elder Fred 'Coyote' Downing, EagleHeart, and April GoForth and Thoz Womenz. Also appearing will be the Feather River Singers, the Shingle Springs Dancers, the Berry Creek Youth Dancers, the Grass Valley Hula Dancers, and the Aztec Dancers.

Eight years ago in Nevada City, on what is known as Columbus Day, several local tribal members held a candlelight vigil to honor their ancestors. At the same time, at the KVMR Community Radio studio just blocks away, local radio volunteers organized a day to honor natives. Over the years those native and non native people have joined forces with other local organizations to produce what has become four full days of healing and celebration.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5th; This year the event will open on Friday, October 5, 2007 at 4 PM with a ceremony to dedicate to the local Maidu land in Nevada City, the center of the Gold Rush that exterminated 99.5% of their ancestors. The opening ceremony will honor those ancestors and the culture that lives on.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6th: The day begins at sunrise with the traditional sunrise ceremony near Parks Bar Bridge. Spirit Runners will then carry a speared salmon upstream to Bridgeport Crossing at the south fork of the Yuba River, where an elder will perform the traditional ceremony known as "Calling Back the Salmon," This ceremony was held in 2006 for the first time in 156 years.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7th: A sunrise ceremony at the Tsi-Akim Active Cultural Center at Burton Park, outside Nevada City, opens the day. From 11 AM to 6 PM the public is invited to a day of fun, with discussion, celebration, food and healing. The public can experience an active traditional village and traditional Bark House, located on land that once was a Maidu village. Many of the guests who will be onstage Monday will also be at the Sunday gathering.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 8th: Opens with a sunrise ceremony at the Tsi-Akim Active Cultural Center. At 10 AM the event moves to Miners Foundry, in downtown Nevada City, where the public is invited to a day of discussion and celebration. From 10 AM to noon the focus will be on children's activities, with elementary school classes invited to hear storytelling, traditional singing and drumming.

Afternoon activities will focus on discussions of key issues, including: the problem of "Mercury in our water, our land, and our bodies, ""Healing Soul Wounds" of the Gold Rush and beyond, a gathering of tribal leaders and elders, and a panel of youth. Onstage throughout the afternoon will be April GoForth and the women's drum circle, Thoz Womenz.

The Richard Prout Memorial Dinner, dedicated to the late chair of the Colfax tribe, will offer wild salmon, wild elk and buffalo stew, and other traditional foods. The evening will feature traditional dancing and singing with the Feather River Singers, Niki Esho drummers, Shingle Springs dancers, and award winning contemporary singer songwriter Yolanda Martinez.

Sunday and Monday will be broadcast live on KVMR Community Radio, 89.5 FM/105.1 FM, and online at

Indigenous Peoples Days are hosted by the Tsi-Akim Maidu tribe and the Colfax-Todds Valley Consolidated tribe. Community sponsors include: KVMR-FM, the South Yuba River Citizens League, the Sierra Fund, the Seventh Generation Fund, the Miners Foundry, the Nevada County Land Trust, Nevada County Indian Education, Sierra Nevada Deep Ecology Institute, California State Parks, California Fish and Game, and Briarpatch Community Coop.

Donations will be accepted at the door on Sunday and Monday, with a fee for Monday dinner. The four day event is alcohol and drug free, and open to the public.

Volunteers are invited to help with this event. Volunteers can contact Stephanie Lorenson at the Nevada County Land Trust, 530-272-5994. For questions about the children's event on Monday morning, call Donna Uran at 530-478-1656, or email

For more information, call the Tsi Akim Tribal office at 530-265-0711 or go online to:

Women's Drum Summit 2007 - May 21, 2007

The weekend of May 5-6, 2007, the Women's Drum Society gathered at Granlibakken in Tahoe City, CA for our annual Drum Summit. The idea is to bring together women who drum, as well as the young women who are being mentored at the drum. We shared songs with each other, performed for each other, and sang "The Gathering Song" en masse. The event was coordinated by Dr. April Go Forth, director of RISE (Resources for Indian Student Education) and founder of Thoz Womenz, a women's drum. Thoz Womenz's first CD has been nominated for a NAMMY (Native American Music Award). Thoz Womenz CD's songs feature songs in Eastern Cherokee dialect to promote language conservation, reflecting April's Eastern Cherokee family heritage. Feather River Singers' songs are more Western Cherokee, or Cherokee Nation dialect. We learn from each other and inspire each other. The idea for these events came about when we wanted to learn more about drumming, the protocol and traditions. Irma Amaro-Davis from The Mankillers came and gave instruction and answered our questions about drumming. We have met many wonderful people through these gatherings. This event was limited to 50 attendees.

Feather River Singers has taken responsibility for organizing next year's Drum Summit - we are exploring the idea of a camp-like setting for next year's event so that we can accommodate more participants. If you are a woman at a drum and are interested in participating, please contact us! If you are mentoring a group of young women and are interested in having your drum attend, please also contact us.

Maidu Tribe Opens Thrift Store, Office - February 12, 2007

Maidu tribe opens new thrift store, office

The Union photo/Laura Brown
By Laura Brown,
February 12, 2007

Storm clouds parted for blue skies yesterday as more than 50 people gathered for the grand opening celebration of the Tsi-Akim Maidu Thrift Store and new office location in Nevada City. 

"The sun came out when the drums started playing," said Tribal Chairman Don Ryberg Sunday afternoon in front of the tribe's new thrift shop.

Inside, people lined up at the cash register with their arms full of clothing, household treasures and books. Women from the Marysville-based Feather River Singers kept a pulse-like rhythm on a large communal drum while they sang in Cherokee in a vacant room next door. Outside, others waited for steaming plates of Indian tacos.

The thrift store is the first enterprise for the tribe, which previously relied on fundraisers to pay for its former Grass Valley office. 

"We finally made it to Nevada City. We've been trying to get over here for awhile," Ryberg said before a circle of family, tribal and community members who attended the event. "It gives us our chance to achieve our goals," Ryberg said.

The tribe eventually wants to secure a land base where a cultural center can be built and is seeking community support to work toward that goal. 

The Tsi-Akim Maidu was a federally recognized tribe until the 1960s when that status was terminated. Ryberg said the tribe will continue to pursue government recognition while looking at ways to involve the community.

Email from Ellie - July 10, 2006

Heard about you all at The Feast of the East & when Mother Earth Beat sang your song Women Warriors of the 507th it not only brought tears to my eyes, but stopped the gathering & everyone who wasn't crying were singing your beautiful honor song. Congratulations on your Nammy. Well deserved.
Red Hawk Medicine Drum



Their first recording efforts received national recognition from the 8th Annual Native American Music Awards when their album was nominated for Debut Artist/Group of the Year. On Thursday, June 8th, 2006 when the Native American Music Awards were presented in Hollywood, Florida, the Feather River Singers were sitting in the VIP section. Congratulations go to Gil Silverbird winner of the 2006 Best Debut Artist. Although the Feather River Singers did not receive the award, they know it was a tremendous honor just to be in the running. Going to the Nammys was a phenomenal experience where they met and mingled with some of the best artists in Native music today. All through the voting process, the votes and encouraging emails of their on-line friends were so appreciated. Feather River Singers heartily thank everyone for their support!

TV Appearance - Channel 5 - August 1, 2005

Feather River Singers appeared live on Channel 5's "Take Five" cable program on July 26, 2005! We gave an interview and sang two songs from our new CD, "Beautiful World" and "Come My Love." Channel 5 is located in Yuba City, CA and operated by Comcast Broadcasting.

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